Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene
Of all the restaurants that D and I claim as “one of our favorites” or “you just have to go there at least once” only one usually gets a response of “Are you guys serious!?”, or “Ugh, I hear that place is awful!” and occasionally we get the come back “You mean that place is still open?!”. This restaurant is the quaint BYOB establishment known as Tomato Pie Café in North Park. Yes, it is still open (but be sure to call, the hours here change- A LOT!) and yes is it one of our favorites in the area. It’s not one thing that makes it great, although the BYOB part is a huge bonus. We do totally understand the complaints we have heard from numerous people, such as, the service is slow, it’s so expensive, the décor is dated/old, they run out of a lot of food, the hours are weird, the wait for a table can be lengthy. All of these are valid points. So why on earth do D and I love it so!? Well, BYOB, the atmosphere for us is great (very laid back and chill), amazing pizza and pasta, sitting out on the patio for a few hours on a beautiful summer/spring night with great friends and wine is a nice way to spend the night. What else do you really need to know?
For the life of me, I can not remember ever eating at Tomato Pie without Chris and Tarrah (our Besties, all the way back to High School Days!). In fact we have never eaten there with anyone else or just the 2 of us; it’s always a party of four. It’s to the point now, we don’t even need the menus; we always order the same thing! ALWAYS. At one time or another one of us has tried to branch out and try something new and it is just never the same.
Now, perhaps I should lay down some ground rules before you venture down to Tomato Pie:
1. If it is winter, early spring or late fall don’t bother going, they are closed.
2. If you are in a hurry, don’t bother. We have never been there for less than 90 minutes.
3. If you need to be “baby’d” by your server, go elsewhere! Refills don’t come quick. Extra dressing? Yeah, give that a few minutes and maybe a 2nd reminder. Changes to the menu items? Not gonna happen.
4. You want split checks? NOPE
5. Bring Cash, that’s the only payment they accept.
6. No reservations.
So are you willing to comply with those rules? Good! Now for the food; D goes with the Penne Primavera with hot sausage, as does Tarrah. It has a creamy pink sauce and a variety of vegetables that change with what is currently in season.
Chris orders the Tomato Pie Pizza, which is no sauce, a drizzle of oil, garlic, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, and cheese. Simple, but delicious.
I go with a traditional style pizza and add artichokes and hot sausage. The crust here is excellent, just enough cheese, and the sauce isn’t too sweet or acidic which adds up to a great pizza. The garden in the back provides most of the produce used.
So are you going give Tomato Pie a shot? Or have you heard too many negative reviews and are scared? We strongly suggest giving it a shot. The patio is a beautiful place to enjoy a meal, and if crappy weather strikes, sit on the screened in porch on the back of the restaurant. Bring a couple or maybe a few bottles of wine and make yourselves comfy. You may have a completely different outlook on Tomato Pie when you have finished your meal.